It's a new year and that means it's time to set some new running and fitness goals. With last year's goals of rebuilding successfully met, this year, it's time to focus on getting faster, going longer, and laying the foundation for my next marathon.
So starting after the Charleston Half, here's what my goals are for this year:
Be smart. Be strategic.
I love racing, but I don't want to race just for the sake of racing. While I'll still race some races for fun, I don't want to load my schedule down every weekend (or nearly every weekend) with a race. Each race should have a purpose, whether it's a goal race or a test race for a goal race. That's essentially what I did this past fall. I knew I was getting faster by the week, so I wanted to keep testing my times to get a better sense of where I might be for the Charleston Half. However, I felt like it ended up being too much racing, especially when it comes to 5Ks. 5Ks are fun, but if I'm always racing 5Ks, it distracts me from other things, like solid training. So in 2015, (almost) all races have a purpose.
Drop my 5K times so I place in my age group
Around here, you don't place in my age group (F35-39) with a 5K time in the 24 minute range, or even in the 23 minute range (except on the rare occasion of a small race). You've got to be, at best, in the 22 minute range, but more likely you need to pull a 20 or 21 minute time.
So, I've got my work cut out for me. But given my track record of dropping from 26:51 to 23:53 in less than a year of running (my first year of running), how quickly my times dropped post-baby, plus the fact that I'm still a fairly new runner for whom improvements still come quickly (i.e., I haven't hit the wall yet where PRs are more of a challenge to get), it
be possible by year's end to get into the 21 minute range, especially with the work I plan to put in to get there.
Lay the foundation for a February 2016 marathon
I've decided that 2015 is not going to be the year of my second marathon. I'd rather run it in 2016 and lay the foundation for it this year, by slowly building and training smartly for a few half marathons as well as doing a summer track training session. I want this next marathon to be, at its slowest, sub-4 and, at best, somewhere in the 3:45 range (I don't think a BQ will be within reach yet, but we'll see). I'm not messing around this time and half-assing my training like I did for my first marathon.
Crosstrain at least once a week
Now that I've got somewhat of a schedule down with fitting workouts in, I need to get better at crosstraining. I only need to fit it in once a week. There's a cycling studio right near my house that also offers core and strength workouts, so I'd like to try that out. On days when getting to a studio won't happen, I've got an elliptical at home I can use.
Run at least five miles on a regular weekday run and run at least five days a week
For the past several months, my regular weekdays runs have only been in the three to four mile range and I've only been running four days a week. I want to up regular runs to five miles, which was what I had just started doing when I got pregnant and had to cut back again pretty quickly. But just by doing this, I saw speed gains without even doing any specific speed training.
I also want to add an extra easy run day into my schedule to bring my total running days to five. It's okay if this one only ends up being a 3-miler. I just want to add that extra day. Ideally, I'd like to get up to running six days a week on weeks when my schedule isn't too insane, but that may be asking to much at the moment.
Continue with strength and core work
Up until the holiday travel and craziness of the past three weeks, I was really good about this. I did at least three morning core sessions a week (sometimes five) and at least one other core/strength class. I want to keep this up and add a second core/strength class on weeks when my schedule allows it. I can see a difference in how I run and how I feel since doing this.
My ideal workout schedule:
If every week went perfectly and I encountered no scheduling obstacles (bwahahaha!), this is what my workout schedule would look like:
Sadly, my schedule will not always be perfect and I'll be scrambling to fit in workouts, but having this ideal schedule in mind gives me something to shoot for.
- A 21:xx 5K by the end of the year (as mentioned above, this is a stretch, but given my track record of improvement and still being a fairly new runner, I think it could be attainable). At the very least I'd like to see 22:xx on the clock, and see it consistently in every 5K I race.
- A sub-47 minute 10K
- A 1:45 half marathon
Key races for the first half of the year:
Charleston Half Marathon (1/17/14)
This one's important because it's my first half marathon post-baby and it's the start of re-entering training for longer distances. I don't necessarily have goals to PR because I don't really think I've put in the training to do that, even though those online running calculators say I could by several minutes based on my recent 5K times. I've done about the same amount of training as every other half marathon I've run (including my current PR), so maybe it's a possibility since I'm generally faster now, but I'm not hanging my hat on it since I don't feel like I've done enough to PR. I'd just like to run a sub-two hour race.
An April half marathon
I think by this time, I'll be in PR shape so that's what I'll be attempting at this point. I still haven't decided on my race, but I want it to be fairly close to home, either in Georgia, North Carolina, or South Carolina. Some contenders for this race are:
Raleigh Rock 'n Roll Half (NC)
- Pros: This is the goal race for my training group.
- Cons: It's a Sunday race and I'm not a huge fan of long races on Sundays. It's also a really hard course (so I've heard from people who ran it last year).
Skidaway Island Half (GA)
- Pros: It's in Savannah and I want to visit there. It's a Saturday race.
- Cons: It's the first year for this race and I'm not so sure about running an inaugural event of this distance. Packet pickup is on Thursday, so I'd end up having to pick up my packet on race day and I hate doing that.
Charlotte Racefest (NC)
- Pros: Going back to Charlotte is always fun because we get to see friends. I also know this course, it's a familiar city/travel destination, and it's my current PR. It'd be nice to break it there.
- Cons: I've already run this race and I kind of feel like I should run a different one. It's ridiculously hilly, especially the last 7 miles.
Isle of Palms Beach Run 10K (July)
After another season of training for a half marathon, and hopefully taking it up a notch from my first round of post-baby half training, I'd like to go out and attempt a 10K PR. As long as the tide is low and the sand is mostly packed, I think this could be feasible at this race. Although, heat and humidity could be a factor here.
I have some other races on my schedule for the first half of the year, but none of them are really key races. They're just training races and several are still tentative at this point. So that's it: only three key races in the first half of the year.
I'm still working on lining up my fall races, but I do know I'm planning to do track training over the summer, so fall is when I'll really be looking to PR in the 5K. Plus I'm sure I'll want a PR (again) in the half marathon and maybe the 10K as well. It's too early to tell at this point, and I need to get through the first half of the year before I set goals for the second. I'm looking forward to an exciting year of getting faster and seeing lower times on the clock!